The Academics and the Culture
In their varying methodologies for reaching the New York City teens, Manhattan professors got creative at this year’s Institute.
For his segment, Judge led a walking tour of Van Cortlandt Park, where they were instructed to collect leaves they would later inspect for patterns that distinguish between different species of trees. This exercise fostered acute observational skills. Bollert related experiences from the students’ lives to explain Plato’s ideologies on wisdom (“Knowledge is a necessary condition for wisdom, but not a necessarily sufficient condition for wisdom.”), and Kaplan illustrated the importance of taking organized class notes with a relatable comparison to iPhone technology.
In conjunction with an engaging lecture that focused on Buddhism, Kaplan headed a field trip to the Rubin Museum of Art. In the downtown Manhattan space, the students were able to view art from Asian cultures that are influenced by the religion. This helped them to visualize its impact on a global scale, and connect to its principles in a more personal way.
“[We] want to reinforce the idea that education is cultural, and also to offer the New York City experience, which is a core component of a Manhattan College education,” says Kaplan, who has taken part in the Institute since its beginning.
During the past seven years, his curriculum for the week has evolved. A course that previously acted as a pared-down version of the Introduction to Religious Studies course he teaches at the College, RELS 110, is now more focused on skill development. During a lively first meeting with students, Kaplan followed a real-talk conversation about what it takes to be successful with useful tips on efficient note-taking, and how it can mean the difference between a D and B on an important exam or paper.
“I want you to know your notes as well as you know the location of each application on your iPhone,” he said. To monitor their progress in accomplishing this task, Kaplan’s lectures concluded with a quiz and later, a review session, to pinpoint areas that need improvement.
A Lasting Impact
Kieran Rock ’17, a former English major at the College, was one of five current students and recent graduates serving as the Institute’s student mentors. He, along with Rachel Gerard ’17, Jessica Risolo ’17, Daniel Ynfante ’17, and Rima Reda ’18 were tasked with guiding the rising high school seniors to their classes throughout the week, resolving any issues related to their living in the residence halls, and acting as chaperones on trips to the city.
Student mentors also collaborated with the program’s writing instructors, which included Associate Director for the Center for Academic Success Sujey Ramos, and Manhattan graduates Alyssa Getzel ’09, Sarah Glessner ’13, RJ Liberto ’16, and Maria Sanzari ’14, to help in the college essay writing process.
Glessner, the Learning Specialist at the Center, was happy with the achievement she saw throughout the week.
“I had the pleasure of guiding a group of high schoolers as they brainstormed, drafted and collaborated during the process of writing their college essays. Some of the students nurtured a passion for writing, while others uncovered writing talents they didn't know they had. The students had so many valuable things to say, and they finished the week off with polished pieces of writing,” she says.
Passafiume, who helped found the Institute nearly a decade ago, believes that the effects it has on the high school participants are just as long-lasting as they are for the instructors.
“When I do the training for our student mentors and writing teachers, I remind them, ‘You can’t forget that this experience isn’t only changing the lives of the students.’ If one out of 30 decides, ‘I can do this,’ and they’re empowered, that changes generations going forward,” she says.